How Art Helps Meta Build the Metaverse
Having a clear idea of what exactly the Metaverse is or will be is a challenge for most minds. It is difficult to understand what it can be, especially for those responsible for building it. What is certain is that making the metaverse a place worth spending time takes some imagination. Luckily for the engineers at Meta, they have Open Arts to inspire them.
“We exist to build community through creativity,” Tina Vaz, head of Open Arts, told BOSS. The Open Arts mission statement could be a great vision for the Metaverse.
The first ad promoting the Meta brand featured “The Fight Between a Tiger and a Buffalo” by Post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau. The camera zooms in as the painting transforms into a fully-fledged three-dimensional world behind the central figures. It exemplifies the dynamic experience that Meta aims to provide Metaverse users, literally taking them to another dimension of the web.
It’s only fitting that art should feature so prominently in the introduction to Meta, as art and artists will play a key role in building the Metaverse and exploring its possibilities.
“Doing technology is a creative act,” Vaz said. “The process of creating and the process of developing technology are analogous.”
Open Arts offers creative engagements and workshops for Meta employees in all aspects of art, programs that help get the creative juices flowing and encourage innovation in their work. The act of creation requires experimentation and sometimes failure, whether it’s making a sculpture or building an application. There is always a lesson to be learned.
Just as it provides new creative opportunities for employees, Open Arts offers artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience. This comes in the form of installations in Meta’s offices, partnerships with museums and cultural institutions, and artwork featured in Meta’s apps. New creative tools such as AR and VR give artists the ability to explore new mediums.
“When you think about the metaverse, it’s an opportunity to build a new world together,” she said. “Artists should be part of this conversation. Artists share a hacker spirit with technologists in that they examine a problem, take it apart, think of new ways to put it back together, ask questions that have no immediate answer. These are the kinds of conversations we believe are necessary to build a metaverse that has sustainability, equity, and representation at the heart of its foundation.
Meta has already integrated art into its digital spaces, commissioning work for its apps that has brought widespread recognition to unknown artists. Cultural moments such Dia de Muertos and Native American Heritage Month were marked by commissioned works.
“What’s great about these kinds of collaborations is that the artistic input enhances the user’s experience in the app, and the artists themselves bring a narrative and perspective to the community and the moment. which is celebrated,” Vaz said.
Commissioned 360 degree backgrounds for Messenger Rooms showcased the work of analog artists in a digital space, a potential insight into decorating metaverse spaces.
Web3 will allow more unknown artists to make themselves known.
“The promise of NFTs is a widening of the funnel, with more opportunities for creators,” Vaz said. “They have even more control over their work and how it’s sold.”
The place to be
If the metaverse is to become the online gathering place, art will be a key vector.
“We believe art is essential to our collective well-being,” Vaz said, “it’s something that makes us human. It is not possible to imagine a space inhabited by humans that does not include a rich array of artistic experiences.
Open Arts associates artists with creators of Spark AR to add AR overlays to physical artworks that are displayed in Meta spaces, experimenting with the possibilities of mixed reality.
Vaz recalled the discovery of a table below “Woman Ironing” by Picasso from his visit to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. It took years from the discovery that something was hidden underneath for infrared technology to reveal the underlying portrait. This is the kind of scenario where augmented and mixed reality could show the viewer both works at once.
“You can certainly imagine the possibilities and application of AR technology to push these kinds of stories forward,” she said.
“We certainly imagine doing more as we continue to head into the metaverse,” Vaz said.
Much like musicians hold virtual concerts during the height of COVID restrictions in person, the Metaverse could feature live shows and exhibits via virtual reality.
“Art and artists can introduce us to social, philosophical, political, even ecological possibilities. This is true for the physical world and for digital spaces. If we’re building a new world in the metaverse, what do we want those possibilities to be? How can we leverage technology to give them creative life? That’s why we think it’s important for artists to be part of the conversation.
We’re only scratching the surface of what the metaverse can be. Imagine the possibilities.